A lush green vegetation sitting on rolling hills in Nakuru make a splendid spectacle, especially for first-time visitors.
The green vegetation that comprises grass, trees and food crops make the county an important agricultural hub.
It is here that Chania Youth Group, which currently deals in dairy keeping and milk value addition, plies their trade. The group not only keeps cows but also trades in milk, aggregating the produce from farmers, adding value and selling to residents in the cosmopolitan town.
“The group was started by students who wanted to engage in farming to make some money. We began by growing maize,” Cosetta Wanjiku, the secretary, tells Mkulima Young.
The group, however, in 2019 diversified into dairy farming after receiving some training that opened their eyes on opportunities in the sector.
“We were taken for the training by Vijabiz project officials and saw that dairy can work well for us,” she says. This is because members had land on which we could grow fodder and we could also readily buy dairy animals
To get into the venture, they bought a dairy cow, made a cowshed and started the journey into the business.
But as fate would have it, the members of Chania group lost the animal in mid-June 2019 after they faced several challenges, including diseases.
However, Wanjiku says they did not give up, they bought a heifer and started to buy milk from farmers for sale.
“But we do not only buy and sell, due to the training we received, we ventured into milk value addition where we currently make yoghurt as well as sell raw milk. But we are still small-scale,” she says.
Some of the equipment the group has for milk processing include milk cans, which they use to ferry milk they get from farmers, and a milk cooler where they store the produce. They also have a motorbike that they use in milk collection.
They sell their products mainly to residents in the town and also lately through online marketplace Mkulima Young.
As they work hard to see their business grow thanks to support they have received from Vijabiz, Chania members acknowledge that it is not a smooth ride.
“We find it challenging getting a veterinarian when the cow needs treatment and sometimes the cost of medication is too high. There is also the challenge of getting quality feeds particularly during the dry season but we are solving the problem by having our own feeds store where we can keep hay,” says Kevin Chege, a member.
Samuel Kamau, a member of the group, says they have received plenty of training, which include feeding and handling dairy cows, some by visiting agricultural shows.
“We also trained on fish production and as the group progresses, we will start saving money for our own development,” he says.
Morgan Siguda, a project officer with Vijabiz, says by venturing into the dairy value chain, the group has taken a path that will be profitable.
“Through the mentorship project, they were able to see that the area they were in was good for dairy. They have put in a lot of efforts and they are now doing well.”